Samsung Display is used to making history. For example, it was the first to commercialize UTG (ultra-thin glass) foldable displays. However, advancements in display technology aren’t the only “firsts” that the company now needs to get used to.
For the first time in history, Samsung Display workers have gone on a strike against the company. They went on strike after negotiations with the management failed over a wage hike.
Similar industrial actions could spread to other Samsung affiliates
Samsung had been staunchly opposed to labor unions in the past. Employees were prevented from forming unions at the companies under its corporate umbrella. However, the attitude towards unions has now changed. Samsung boss Lee Jae-yong had promised to get rid of the conglomerate’s “no labor union” policy.
Today, representatives of the labor union at Samsung Display launched their first strike in the company’s history. They did that after negotiations over a wage increase fell through. Around 40 representatives of the union staged the strike at the Samsung Display plant in Asan, South Chungcheong Province.
The union has close to 2,400 members or approximately 10 percent of the entire Samsung Display workforce. It’s yet to decide whether a full-scale strike will be launched. That option is not off the table as more than 90 percent of union members had voted for industrial actions last month.
If that happens, Samsung Display’s production would suffer, and that’s something it wouldn’t like. The union is demanding a 6.8 percent increase in base pay but the company has countered with a 4.5 percent raise instead. Both sides are not budging on their stance for now.
Once Samsung announced it would ditch its no labor union policy in May last year, the company would have known it may face such challenges in the future. Lee Jae-yong had promised that the conglomerate will strictly comply with labor laws and guarantee three fundamental labor rights of workers.
The labor union at Samsung Display was subsequently formed under the Federation of Korean Trade Unions last year. Industry observers are of the view that such industrial actions could expand to other Samsung affiliates in the future.